Apostille and Legalization

When you need to use foreign documents in Italy, you need to follow a proper procedure of authentication and legalization. This is possible through the Apostille or Legalization, depending on if your Country is part of the Hague Conference of 1961. Read further down to better understand what these two procedures are.


The concept of Apostille refers to a form of authentication issued to documents for use in countries that participate in the Hague Convention of 1961. The primary goal of an Apostille is to simplify the legalization process of documents among the member states, effectively bypassing the cumbersome, traditional method of legalizing documents, which typically involves a chain of authentications.

To obtain an Apostille, a document must be issued or certified by an officer recognized by the authority that will issue the Apostille. For example, in the US, the Secretary of State or the Deputy Secretary of State in the state where the document was issued certifies local documents for foreign use. European countries have similar competent bodies with the authority to issue Apostilles for documents that are going to be used abroad.

To use a document from one member country in another member country, the issuing country must attach an Apostille from the competent authority. This international certification is equivalent to legalization but requires less bureaucracy and is recognized by all member countries of the Hague Convention, which eliminates the need for dual certification by the originating country and then by the receiving country.

Established by the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the Apostille system greatly facilitates the use of public documents outside of their country of origin. Public documents, such as birth certificates, court orders, or any document issued by a public authority, can be apostilled — thereby certifying the authenticity of the signature on the document, the capacity in which the person signing the document acted, and the identity of the seal/stamp it bears.

The efficiency provided by the Apostille Convention aids people who are working or doing business internationally by reducing the time and expense of obtaining multiple certifications from different intermediaries. As globalization increases the flow of people, goods, and information, procedures such as the Apostille become increasingly significant, streamlining bureaucracies and ensuring smooth international operations.

This certificate authenticates the seal and signature of the country’s authority. In this way issues a legally valid document also other Countries.

Check here to read if your Country is part of the Hague Conference.


Document legalization is a critical process for individuals and entities needing to use official documents in a foreign country. Specifically, The Legalization certifies the Documents from Countries not part of the 1961 Hague Conference. This process becomes particularly important for countries that are not signatories of the Hague Apostille Convention, an international treaty that simplifies the authentication of documents among its member states.

For documents originating from non-member countries, the procedure can be significantly more complex and time-consuming. Unlike member states, where a single Apostille certificate is sufficient for the legal acceptance of documents across all other member countries, non-member states must go through a more traditional process of legalization. This involves having documents authenticated on several levels, often starting with the legal authority in the country of origin, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

After the initial certification, the documents require further authentication by the embassy or consulate of the destination country located within the issuing country. This step ensures that the receiving nation’s diplomatic or consular authorities have verified the documents’ validity per their legal standards and requirements.

It’s important to note that while the process is undeniably lengthier and may involve additional steps compared to the Apostille process, the outcome is the same: documents are legally recognized and accepted for use in the foreign country. This level of certification is necessary for a wide range of documents, including but not limited to academic credentials, commercial contracts, judicial rulings, and notarial acts.

The legalization process serves as a bridge for international regulatory compliance, allowing countries that have not joined the Hague Convention to securely and legitimately participate in cross-border legal matters.

The legalization certifies that the authority issuing a document has legal quality and that its signature and/or stamp are verified. However, some bilateral or multilateral conventions may be exempt from any international authentication process.

We assist Clients with all these international procedures for any legal document or act (certificateswillsnotarial actscourt orders, etc.) from abroad in Italy and vice versa.